The Personal Learning Network Day 13- Personal Frameworks of Coherence

25 01 2010

In the last two weeks I have found Siemen and Tittenberger’s term “personal frameworks of coherence” to be useful.  In their Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning, they write “Our learning and information acquisition is a mashup. We take pieces, add pieces, dialogue, reframe, rethink, connect, and ultimately, we end up with some type of pattern  that symbolizes what’s happening “out there” and what it means to us. And that pattern changes daily.”

When I created my Personal Learning Network, I was drawn to a model of learning that seems to fit the realities of my life in 2010.  I think it replaces a model of learning that has amounted to wishful thinking.  Part of me always aspires to graceful and streamlined procedures, adding onto my knowledge base each tidy new piece of information.  I like to see the big picture, even when no big picture is available.

I really should know better than to keep hoping ideas will be packaged so that I can consume the ideas like television, with such passivity that I barely have to participate in my own learning.

Of course,  it’s just as constructivists have been saying all aong, that whatever coherence comes in anything I always construct for myself.  My own teaching skill sets and knowledge bases — of my students, of my subject matter, of pedagogy, and now, of educational technology — always emerge from fairly chaotic processes.  My mind sifts through its environment, and whatever coherence arises from that comes largely from my efforts to make sense of it.  Gradually, I begin to identify a set of beliefs and practices that make sense to me, and, as I grow more adept, I learn that much of what I learn is cannot be reduced without losing something, and the only way to be responsible towards these things is to add them in their fully knotted complexity.

This has always been my learning process, and my problems are not even especially 21st century, and yet I’ve found it increasingly difficult to integrate the knowledge around me, and I know I’m not alone.

My preservice teachers face a steep learning curve, and the world is just as complicated for them as it is for me.  Many of them hope somebody can make it cohere for them.  They may think they are unqualified to investigate the field on their own.  They might not even know what it is they need to learn.  I know I wasn’t even sure what questions to ask when I was starting out.

I contend that I need/ you need/ we all need a Personal Learning Network  to make sense of the explosive growth of information and the proliferation of (often competing) ideas. It’s the only way we can hope to keep abreast of our rapidly changing field, which is evolving along with a rapidly changing world.

I am beginning to see that I grow my own personal frames of coherence, and no one else can create them for me.  There is no book written precisely for me, except that which I write for myself.  And even if I share my own coherence, my students must do the same for themselves, and so on for their students.  Therefore we must empower the end user (for lack of a better term) to create what order can be made out of such chaos, and I am beginning to see that I can facilitate that process somewhat, but never entirely.

And then there is the quote (of unknown origen — anyone know?) that says,”I store my knowledge in my friends.”  Paul Reid’s blog turned me on to Karen Stephenson’s “What Knowledge Tears Apart, Networks Make Whole,” in which she offers comentary:

“‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people.  Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge.  Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people.”

According to Stephenson, networks not only help us develop competence, but are themselves a form of competence.

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